Frequently asked questions about Australian Bureau of Statistics household surveys.
In this section
The ABS conducts several household surveys each year. One or more of them is usually active at any given time of the year.
If you have been selected to take part in one of our household surveys, you may be wondering how you were selected, why we are doing the survey or if it is compulsory to take part. Many past participants have asked these and other questions. Listed below are some of the questions most frequently asked and our answers. These apply to all ABS household surveys.
The ABS Survey Charter sets out the relationship between the ABS and members of the public who provide us with information for statistical purposes and further information about particular surveys can be accessed here. The Charter also gives further information about what you should expect of an ABS interviewer.
Beware of scams
The ABS and SCAMwatch are warning residents of scam reports regarding household surveys. Scammers have been reported making contact with residents over the phone and asking for personal information on behalf of the ABS or an ABS Census Verification Department. The scam includes providing an official ABS contact number to make the call seem more legitimate. It is important that you hang up and verify you have been contacted by a legitimate ABS officer on the ABS' official contact number 1300 135 070.
Protect yourself from scammers:
How to report a scam:
How do I verify an ABS officer?
In most cases the ABS makes initial household contact in writing to advise that you have been identified for survey participation. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander surveys, first contact is made through an ABS officer. For any personal visits, an ABS officer with official identification will always identify themselves and explain clearly what information is being sought and how the statistics will be used. ABS officers can provide a 1800 number for survey participants to verify legitimacy of the survey or alternatively participants are encouraged to contact the ABS office (9:00am – 5:00pm, Monday to Friday).
Does the ABS ask for bank details or tax file number?
No. The ABS does not ask respondents to provide, or confirm, their bank details or tax file number. To verify the legitimacy of an ABS survey or officer please contact the ABS office (9:00am – 5:00pm, Monday to Friday).
Why was my household selected?
A sample of dwellings (not individuals) is selected at random throughout Australia using mathematical sampling techniques to ensure that every household in each state/territory has the same chance of selection. Once a dwelling has been selected it cannot be swapped for another, as other dwellings have already had their chance of selection. Sometimes Interviewers will need to speak to everybody in the household and sometimes only one person will need to be interviewed. People in selected dwellings represent similar people in their community. Your cooperation is vital to ensure that people like you are properly represented in the survey results.
Do I have to give my name?
No. The Interviewer will ask for your name to assist with the interview, but if you wish, the interview can be conducted anonymously.
What if the time the interviewer calls is not convenient for me?
As your information is very important to the ABS, the Interviewer will be happy to arrange another time to interview that is convenient to you. Interviewers generally work between 8:30am and 8:30pm, Monday to Friday and 9:00am and 5:00pm Saturday; and may have limited availability on Sundays. If you are unable to complete the interview at the arranged time, the Interviewer may be able to schedule another appointment.
Do I have to let the interviewer into my home?
A trained ABS Interviewer with an official ABS identification card will visit you at your home to arrange a convenient time. It would be ideal if you can make a suitable table and chair available, as the Interviewer will be using a notebook computer to collect the survey information. The interview can be conducted inside or outside the house (wherever you feel most comfortable).
Do I have to participate?
The questions included in this survey are being asked under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Under the Act, you are obliged to provide the information being requested. The ABS is required by the Act to maintain the secrecy of all information provided to it. No information will be released in a way that would enable an individual or household to be identified.
Where can I obtain more information?
If you would like any further information about this survey, the Interviewer will be able to answer any questions you have. Alternatively, contact us and we will assist you.
For general enquiries about the ABS, telephone the ABS National Information Referral Service on 1300 135 070.
How can I provide feedback?
If you would like to provide feedback to the ABS regarding either a survey or an interviewer, please complete a feedback form.